LACEY – Township officials are looking at looking at different ways to help protect life and property in regards to firefighting methods.
During a recent Township Committee meeting, officials considered of an ordinance for fire alarm systems and special boxes following a recommendation by the chief of the Lanoka Harbor Fire Company. It had been noted that other communities have entry keys or password codes left in lock boxes in front of commercial businesses that fire companies can access during a fire call.
Township Business Administrator/Clerk Veronica Laureigh said, “instead of knocking down a door when you can’t get a hold of somebody” the firefighter could have access to a lockbox. She said there would be “limited access to the entry codes in the lockboxes.”
The governing body will review municipal codes from other towns, such as Stafford Township, to see if something like that could work in Lacey.
The move would involve the Planning Board as well, Laureigh said as such a box would have to be included as part of a business application.
Mayor Peter Curatolo said he had spoken with the chief of the Forked River Fire Company. He is in support of it and said it has worked well in Stafford. Additionally, there recently was a fire in Forked River where a sprinkler inside went off and was destroying the business and a key holder couldn’t show up for over an hour so the damage was from the sprinkler they couldn’t turn off.
“There was more damage from that than the fire. I think it is a smart thing to do. It will cause a lot less damage. I am in favor of it after talking to him,” the mayor added.
Damage to doors of a business and the cost to replace them was also discussed among the members of the committee as being another reason to go forward with an ordinance.
Laureigh explained that the boxes would be paid for by the businesses as part of their installation and that an ordinance will be drafted and submitted to the Committee who will review it and modify it as necessary.
The subject then turned to the preparation of this year’s municipal budget which usually starts with department heads and first responder organizations presenting their needs for equipment, staffing and other financial wish list items.
“By the time we get the budget in order and the capital ordinance in place we are not purchasing things until July and by the time it actually gets here you are looking at September. We have a request from the chief of police because we are having severe radio problems,” Laureigh said.
She said the township needs to convert to “the 700-megahertz system that the county is housing, I have prices for that. It is $866,000 to do the conversion plus we still have the remaining of the emergency service radios at 450 and the question is do we want to do a temporary capital budget right now so that by March we can be purchasing these radios and by May be completely converted over to the 700-megahertz by October? It is a serious situation.
“You are looking at about $1.3 million just to update our current system to get that running so it makes more sense to convert over to the 700,” Laureigh added.
“I’ve had several conversations with the chief of police and this is a big, big item for him. We have real problems with the system that we have now. Sometimes the (signal) just drops in the middle of a call,” Committeeman Timothy McDonald said.
“I think we’ve committed to this. We should do it now rather than April or May when we normally do it,” McDonald added.
“I know we had a number of problems. Will this fix the problems?” Committeeman Steven Kennis asked.
He was assured by McDonald and Laureigh that the answer was yes.
“I will remember,” Kennis added.
“Supposedly it will be crystal clear like we are talking right here,” McDonald added.
“We don’t take this lightly,” the mayor said. “We are talking about a lot of money but when we are talking to the chief, some of the folks around the county and we can see there are some communication problems out in Bamber (Lake). This has been an ongoing issue for public safety,” Mayor Curatolo said.
Kennis he said he wanted to make sure that this action would fix the gaps in communication. “That was my concern that we might be spending this much money upgrading the system and that there still might be gaps in coverage.”
“I have been assured,” McDonald said. “Feel free to give the chief a call. He has assured me this will solve the problem.”
Committeeman Mark Dykoff said that he saw two issues to the situation, “the radios and the repeaters.”
“If we keep the system, we have now we have to upgrade the repeaters,” McDonald said.
Laureigh said everything that needs to be done would be provided by one vendor.
“Would we have something in writing that would say this will solve our problem?” Dykoff asked.
Laureigh said she would tighten the wording to the vendor the wording for such a guarantee.
It was noted that the guarantee should come from the vendor.